The concluding day of the four-day harvest festival in Tamil Nadu is an auspicious day for multiple cultural practices, across various avenues. Traditions that have also stemmed from giving thanks during the festival continue to stay prominent on this day.
The fourth day of Pongal – also known as Kaanum Pongal – is a day that is celebrated across many aspects that highlight the rich heritage of Tamil culture. Also known as Kanni Pongal, as a reference to virgin/unmarried girls, the day is marked by the young women by taking a dip in the Kaveri river or playfully engaging in activities along the banks. On this day, elders of a family pray for the well-being and fertility of the young women at home, hoping that they have a prosperous married life in the future.
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Rituals & Significance
The final day of the harvest festival is treated as the day when gratitude is expressed for all the things one possesses, as well as paying visits to places one would otherwise not have the time to go to, with family. Kaanum pongal day is also considered to be favourable for initiating conversations surrounding marriage proposals or establish new bonds and relationships. For unmarried women, the day is marked by offering prayers to get a good husband as a way of having marital harmony.
Also acknowledged as ‘Thiruvalluvar Day,’ dedicated to the famous Tamil poet, Kaanum Pongal is also spent listening to his poems – known as Thirukural. This day of relaxation and socializing, packed lunches are the traditional fare relished on this day, as women take a backseat from the cooking and kitchen duties. Kalandha saadam – or mixed rice – is one of the key dishes consumed on this day, since they are often made using leftovers and utilise pretty much all that’s leftover from the three days of feasting.
Kummi paatu – another women-centric practice that is observed in the interiors of the state – sees unmarried women being made to sit in the centre and women circling her, while singing and dancing around her. This special day is also the equivalent of Bhai Dooj for the women in Tamil Nadu, who visit their brothers homes, while praying for their well-being and long lives. The brothers, in exchange, shower their married sisters with gifts and finery as a way of sharing their blessings.